Sep 28, 2009

Fight redlining with a rally on Wednesday


If you’re tired of paying some of the highest auto insurance rates in the nation even you have never had an accident or even a traffic violation, then the place to be is at noon on Wednesday on the Capitol lawn to fight the practice of redlining and the high cost of auto insurance and demand insurance reforms that will allow all residents to purchase fair and affordable auto and home insurance.

The rally is sponsored by Sen. Martha G. Scott, D-Highland Park. Michigan consumers pay the 12th highest insurance rates in the nation. Detroit consumers pay an average of more than $5,000 a year for auto insurance, the highest rates in the nation.

Scott has sponsored legislation a person’s driving record. Rates should not be set on zip code, education level, job title or credit score – all factors currently used to determine insurance rates.

The same rally was also held in 2007, and more than 2,000 people showed up. Speakers set for noon on Wednesday include Rep. Robert Jones, D-Kalamazoo, former Rep. Nelson Sanders and Butch Hollowell, the state’s insurance advocate.

Detroit residents pay the highest rates in the nation, and Scott has arranged buses for some Detroit residents, The buses leave at 9 a.m. from various points in the city. Contact Scott’s office at (517) 373-7748 for pick-up locations.

Sep 23, 2009

Walk with Marty Griffin and volunteers Saturday to take back the Michigan Senate


Rep. Marty Griffin, D-Jackson, is looking for volunteers to march in the annual Harvest Festival Parade that steps off at 10 a.m. Saturday in Parma.

Griffin is running in a special election set for November for the 19th District that represents Calhoun and Jackson counties that was vacated with the election of Sen. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, to the U.S. House last November. This is the first step in taking back the Senate like we did the House in 2006.

The Republicans enjoy a thin 21-16 lead with the vacant seat, and they are pulling out all the stops to win it back. They see it as the first step in keeping control of the Senate in 2010. More people voted for Senate Democrats in 2006, but they gerrymandered the districts so badly, they kept control.

The budget process has shown how important control of the Senate really is. Senate Republicans are pushing an irresponsible budget proposal that mortgages Michigan’s future just so they can stay in power.

The Senate Democrats have presented an alternative budget proposal that still includes some painful cuts, but uses reforms to protect the things that will make our state competitive in the future. The Senate Democrat’s budget proposal would maintain funding for many important programs and looks to other funding sources to soften the cuts to other state programs. But, the Senate majority refuses to even consider it because at least five in the Republican Caucus are running for statewide office next year, and they want to be seen as cutting taxes.

The Republicans are throwing money around in this race like it’s candy, and they are practically paying volunteers. This is from the state party web site:
“For your help and support at these events, the Michigan Republican Party will take care of all transportation to and from events down in the 19th Senate District along with all hotel accommodations.” It doesn’t say if the accommodations are 4-star, but it’s sad that they are so bankrupt of ideas they have to bribe volunteers. When you are out of ideas, spend lots of money.

This is what we are up against, so we need you Saturday, as well as on other days to knock on doors and to phone bank.

The gathering point for Saturday’s parade is the corner of Elizabeth Street and Grove Street in Parma, 49269. You can RSVP by calling (810) 623-3198 or visit the Facebook page. The campaign is trying to set up car pools for the parade.

Sep 22, 2009

USA Today confirms what we already know: a smoking ban will reduce heart attacks


“Community smoking bans have an immediate and dramatic effect on reducing heart attacks, according to two new analyses of laws in the USA, Canada and Europe,” says a story that appeared in USA Today this week.

“Two separate analyses released Monday each found that heart attack rates fall 17 percent within a year after smoking bans take effect. One analysis, which included 13 studies, appears in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. A second analysis, which considered 11 studies, appears in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.” The study goes on to say, “Cigarette smoke can trigger a heart attack in people with underlying heart disease by causing clots or spasms in the blood vessels, says David Goff, a spokesman for the American Heart Association who wasn't involved in either study.”

I have documented study after study of the positive effects on health of a smoking ban, and the numerous health problems it causes, such as heart disease, stroke, dementia, breast cancer and non-fatal diseases, such as asthma, inner ear infections, major depression and other afflictions in non-smokers, yet the Michigan Senate continues to sit on the workplace smoking ban.

So far 37 other states have a smoking ban in place, and even Third World countries ban indoor smoking. Yet, the Michigan Senate continues to sit on the workplace smoking ban. Despite the mounting evidence of the harmful effects of second smoke they refuse to carry out their Constitutional duty and protect the public health. They cling to the false notion that it will cut into bar owners profits, despite mounting evidence that it does not.

It’s time for the Senate to act and stop wasting time.

Sep 21, 2009

Thinly disguised campaign piece sent out at taxpayer expense

LANSING - There is little doubt that Sen. Bruce Patterson, R-Canton, is running for Michigan Attorney General, and because the nominee is chosen at the party convention, Patterson has been very busy playing to the base that has taken an extreme right turn.

He got the GOP-controlled state Senate to approve a pair of useless resolutions he introduced that affirm so-called “state’s rights” and “affirm Michigan’s sovereignty under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” This ridiculous argument has been a rallying point for extremist right-wingers since the militia was widespread back in the mid 1990s. However, Liberals are picking up on what Patterson is really trying to do.

But what was even more blatant was a so-called “Legislative Survey” he sent to residents of the 7th Senate District at taxpayer’s expense. This so-called survey is the absolute definition of a push poll. The survey is referenced on his tax-payer provided web site, but you can no longer get to it.

It should be noted Patterson is a state Senator, yet only one of the six questions on the survey deals with a state issue; two if you are generous. However, all of the questions are hot button issues with right-wingers.

The first question asks if you are in favor of the federal cap and trade bill. If it wasn’t bad enough that he is using state funds to ask a question about federal legislation, the no option clearly spells out Patterson’s position.

“No, I do not want to pay higher costs when the coal, nuclear and hydro energy available (sic) to sustain our needs.”

That’s a no brainier. Who wants to pay more for their electric bill? The problem is Cap and Trade is not about the availability of dirty energy, it’s about setting limits on pollutants. In fact, just on Friday in a press conference in Lansing, more than 100 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals called on U.S. Sens. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, to help push climate change legislation through the Senate because it is a threat to public health.

Question 2 is the only state issue, and it is on whether Michigan should be a so-called “right to work state.” The question reads, “Do you believe Michigan should be a right to work state so union membership is not a condition of employment (sic).”

The problem is that the question itself is simply a lie, and union membership is not a condition of employment. The right to work for less scam is just a way to break unions. Federal law already protects workers who don't want to join a union to get or keep their jobs, and gives workers the right to opt out of a union.

The third question is not bad, and it asks a pretty straight forward question on a federal and not a state issue. It asks about the federal stimulus package, but the option for no ensures most people will choose that option: “No, I believe the stimulus will lead us into huge debt that, in turn, will bring on inflation and a declining standard of living.”

Question 4 is on health care coverage: “Do you think health care coverage is a right or a privilege.” The answers are very straight forward, but the no answer adds a few extra words: “I believe health care is a privilege that is earned.” So, does that mean that if somebody deems you are worthy, only then can you receive life saving treatment?

Question 5 is the kicker on health care, and this is a text book example of a push poll question: “Do you believe that the government should control all aspects of your health care, such as testing decisions and end of life counseling?”

Wow. The answer is very obvious, especially if you don’t realize everything he said about health care was a false rightwing talking point. Just to be sure you say no, here’s the choice he proved for yes: “Yes, I think the government knows what is best for me.”

The final question is not much different, and it’s a question on the 10th Amendment, but to make sure you support it, here’s the no answer:

“No, I believe the federal government knows what is best for the states.”

What should happen is Paterson should reimburse the taxpayers for his campaign piece out of the money he has raised for his run for Michigan AG.

Sep 18, 2009

SOS candidate wants to make it harder for people to vote

Common sense says the primary job and responsibility of the Michigan Secretary of State is to ensure the ease and security of elections. Somebody better tell that to Sen. Michelle McManus, R-Lake Leelanau, one of the GOP candidates for Secretary of State.

In a mass email touting her endorsement by RNC committee person Holly Hughes, McManus says she “has stood up against proposals like no-reason absentee voting, pre-registration of 16-year-olds and early voting.” In other words, she opposes every measure to make it easier to vote and increase voter turnout.

Those commons sense measures were approved by the House this year, but the GOP-controlled Senate refuses to take them up. However, current Republican Secretary of State Terri Land supports those measures. In fact, Land – who is also a Republican caudate for Lt. Governor in 2010 - told the House Committee on Ethics and Elections in June that she would help move the bills to the Senate floor for a vote.

No-reason absentee voting has widespread support, and those supporting it include The Michigan Election Reform Alliance, The Michigan Election Coalition, The League of Women Voters, The Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks, The Michigan Municipal League, The Michigan Campaign Finance Network, The Michigan Association of County Clerks, The Michigan Townships Association, Common Cause Michigan and The Michigan Nonprofit Association.

I guess McManus is not concerned about getting the endorsement of groups like The Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks or The Michigan Association of County Clerks.

Because the nomination for SOS comes at the party convention, McManus has to play to the GOP base, which has taken an extreme right turn, and she threw them some red meat with this ditty: “As a state Senator, Michelle has been the firewall against legislation tailor-made to make it easier for groups like ACORN and Moveon.org to manipulate our elections.”

First, when has ACORN and Moveon.org ever manipulated any election? I know ACORN is the biggest boogyman for right-wingers, and they have been accused of every crime under the sun. But what they are really guilty of and why the right hates them so much is because they register poor people to vote.

It’s funny that the reason Land gives for registering 16-year-olds: because she says it’s much better than registering them to vote when age 18 by outside groups, but in her endorsement, Hughes claims McManus has the “right experience to build on the success of the Land and Miller legacies.”

Apparently not.

Proposed budget will kill any chance at economic recovery and mortgage the future


LANSING – Diverse groups from the Michigan Municipal League (MML) to the Michigan Association of School Administrators expressed shock that House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford, agreed to use the all cuts budget proposed by Senate Republicans as targets for balancing the 2010 budget.

Dillon is siding with Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, in using all cuts to make up the $2.8 billon deficit in the state budget that must be in place by Oct. 1. The only thing that appears to be certain in the fluid budget situation is that there will be a continuation budget. Part of the alleged deal between Bishop and Dillon is an agreement to include new revenue that will allow the Legislature to restore some spending cuts in a supplemental appropriations bill down the road. But the problem is that Bishop has been running for Attorney General for the past year and there is no incentive for Bishop to even allow his caucus to take up any new revenue bills down the road.

The budget cuts passed by the Senate Republicans will devastate the state, and they include eliminating the state’s 78 Child and Adolescent Health Center (CAHC) Programs, a $110 cut in the per student in the foundation grant, eliminated School Readiness grants, completely eliminated Early Childhood funding, eliminated vocational and adult education, eliminated the Michigan Promise Grant scholarship, huge cuts to the Healthy Michigan Fund, cut 8 percent to Medicaid providers and a 12 percent cut to local government revenue sharing.

The good news is Senate Republicans are balking at the cuts that will hurt Michigan’s future and economic recovery.

Senate Democrats offered concrete suggestions on Thursday for resolving the crisis, while avoiding cuts that would eliminate any chance for a long-term economic recovery.

“For anyone to imply that the only way to fix our budget is through cuts alone or general tax increases alone is baloney,” said Senate Democratic Leader Mike Prusi, D-Ishpeming. “Our alternatives present a compromise approach that still includes some painful cuts, but uses reforms to protect the things that will make our state competitive in the future. These options should at least be on the table as we hammer out a final budget deal in the coming days.”

Senate Democrats have consistently defended several key priorities that are important investments in making our communities safe and our workforce attractive to new businesses, including: Early childhood and public education programs, so that our young people enter school ready to learn; Promise scholarships that help our students afford a higher education and secure good-paying jobs; Local revenue sharing that provides police officers and firefighters to watch over our loved ones; and Health care programs that keep people from seeking more expensive care down the road that we all end up paying for.

The caucus acknowledged that difficult cuts in other areas of the budget may have to be considered, but they have identified a number of reasonable funding sources that would allow Michigan to restore these key investments. These funding alternatives include:

Ending Michigan’s status as a donor state. Assessing just a 2 percent fee on physicians, like we do with hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care providers, allows us to secure a 3 to 1 match from the federal government. This is an idea that even members of the Senate Republican majority have supported in the past and it could provide more than $300 million. By ignoring reforms adopted by other states, we are allowing Washington to dole out hundreds of millions of dollars to states like California, Texas and Alaska instead of Michigan.

Asking multi-millionaires to pay their fair share. Decoupling from the federal government on estate taxes for estates more than $2 million, like a number of other states have done, would allow us to collect at least $130 million to avoid these painful cuts. A majority of other states, including all of our neighbors in the Midwest, already have some type of system to require this.

Reducing tax expenditures. By temporarily scaling back the more than $36 billion in tax credits the state hands out every year; we can avoid wiping out important services.

Limiting tax loopholes. We currently give millions of dollars in breaks to oil and gas companies, insurance companies, and others, while some are advocating for the complete elimination of programs that help our kids. Those aren’t the right priorities for Michigan.

“Now, there may be those who accuse us of being obstructionist or not going along to get along. Well, this caucus has been around long enough to recognize when short-term political considerations are sending us over a cliff, and we won’t let it happen on our watch,” Prusi said. “We’ll do whatever it takes to restore these priorities, and if others in this town are hell bent on making these kinds of mistakes, they’ll have to do it without our help. And anyone who suggests that there’s no time to consider these options should commit to skipping their Republican leadership meeting up north next weekend to stay here and do this right.”

Sep 17, 2009

Join the Battle in Battle Creek for Michigan Saturday


Join like minded Democrats and progressives this Saturday for the “Battle in Battle Creek” sponsored by the Justice Caucus for the first battle in the war to take back the Michigan Senate from the obstructionist Republicans.

Rep. Martin Griffin, D-Jackson, is running in a special election set for November for the 19th District that represents Calhoun and Jackson counties that was vacated with the election of Sen. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, to the U.S. House last November. This is the first step in taking back the Senate like we did the House in 2006.

The state election will have national repercussions when the Congressional district boundaries are redrawn based on the 2010 Census.

The plan is to gather at 12:30 p.m. at Ironworkers Local 340, 510 Columbia Ave E, Battle Creek, MI 49014. Following a picnic lunch, volunteers will hit the streets of Battle Creek to knock on the doors of targeted Democratic and independent votes in support of Griffin. Bring a friend or two and make a contribution to improving the state. Griffin is well known and popular of his home county of Jackson, but he is less known in Battle Creek and Calhoun County.

For more information call (313) 333-4502 or (734) 674-7327.

The Justice Caucus mission is to promote the cause of progressive democracy within the Democratic Party, in government and in the legal profession. They also put on Camp Millie that gives Democratic activists the tools for effective progressive political action in their community.

Double standard reigns in Michigan Senate


LANSING – At least one Michigan Democratic Senator expressed his frustration at the Senate majority’s refusal to move any bills sponsored by a Democratic.

Sen. Ray Basham, D- Taylor, expressed that frustration Wednesday during the statement portion of the Senate session after bombastic Sen. Nancy Cassis, R-Novi, got up and made another speech about the House Democrats declining to take up Senate Bill 1 that would eliminate the Michigan Business Tax (MBT). The bill passed the GOP-controlled Senate in January. You will recall that when Republicans controlled both the House and Senate back in 2006 they eliminated the Single Business Tax (SBT) right before the 2006 elections as a campaign ploy with no replacement in site. The MBT was a bipartisan effort to replace the revenue from the SBT.

Voting to kill the MBT with no replacement would be as irresponsible as killing the SBT was with no replacement was.

Basham, who has been trying for some 12 years to push his workplace smoking ban through, said he agreed with Cassis that good legislation should get a hearing no matter who sponsored it. Very few bills sponsored by Democrats have moved in the Senate.

“By not dealing with this legislation, we are losing 3,000 people a year in Michigan who are dying from smoking-related illnesses,” he said. “Secondhand smoke is related to 17 respiratory diseases, and so to bottle up legislation—and that is just one of my bills—there are a number of bills that the interest groups have signed off on that aren’t moved for whatever reason.”

Basham, who has spent his entire 12 year career in the Legislature in the minority, first in the House and now the Senate, said he would write a letter and intercede with House Democrats on behalf of SB 1, sponsored by Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Grand Rapids.

“Maybe it is because I have a “D” in front of my name; maybe it’s because of Ray Basham; maybe it’s because of Downriver; or maybe it’s because I drive a Ford truck,” he said. “I don’t know why my legislation is not moving, and I absolutely agree with the Senator from the 15th District.”

Amazingly, Senate Majority Leader Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, took the unusual step of replying to Basham just before he adjourned the session, and then he tried to make the claim the Senate took up the smoking bill. Not true.

“I think this body several months ago passed one of the strongest antismoking pieces of legislation that this state has ever seen,” he said. “It was killed in the House of Representatives.”

The House passed House Bill 4377 in May with bipartisan support that bans smoking in casinos and so-called cigar bars, but the Senate has refused to take it up or Basham’s bill, SB 114, that bans smoking with no exceptions.

Last session in December 2008 after the House and Senate passed different versions of the smoking bill a routine conference committee was assigned to work out a compromise between the two bills, and Basham and Cropsey were two of the three conferees assigned from the Senate.

But Cropsey admitted on the Senate floor in April that the workplace smoking ban bill died in the conference committee last December because he refused to compromise. The fact is it was Cropsey who killed the bill because he refused to do his job.

Sep 16, 2009

Shadowy rightwing group attacking League of Woman Voters


We already know corporate money has fueled the attack on real health care reform by financing attacks on Democratic Congressman and paid huge expensive buses for fake demonstrations, but now they are going after an organization that is synonymous with fair elections and unbiased voted education, The League of Women Voters (LWV).

The LWV is under attack by a conservative “nonprofit” shadow group launched less than two months ago under a very similar name, the League of American Voters. The LWV wants to protect its good name earned from 90 years of nonpartisan voter education, and it is demanding the fake corporate lobbying group stop running a "misleading" TV ad and have called on it to "cease and desist from using a name" that is "so deceptively similar" to its own. LWV, which endorses health care reform and a public insurance option, has been hearing from members who had confused the conservative group with the nonpartisan league.

“We are still exploring what legal avenues we might have if they decide not to honor our request to cease and desist," said Mary Wilson, president of the League of Women Voters, in a press release. Wilson's group hand-delivered its letter because it could learn virtually nothing about the new group from its Web site.

The deceptive lobbying group shares the exact address and suite number on 12th Street in downtown Washington as Americans for Tax Reform, and the communications director for this new shadow group claims there is "no affiliation" and that his group is only a tenant. Americans for Tax Reform is a rightwing an anti-tax group that is aggressively lobbying to block health care changes, and it is headed by well-known conservative activist Grover Norquist.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization with more than 150,000 members and supporters nationwide that has fought since 1920 to improve our systems of government and impact public policies through citizen education and advocacy. Its simple mission is to encourage informed and active participation in government, work to increase understanding of major public policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Sep 14, 2009

Protest planned against rightwing whacko Beck


Rightwing whacko Glenn Beck will be the keynote speaker at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday Sept. 15 at the Kellogg Center on the campus at Michigan State University, 55 South Harrison in East Lansing, and the MSU College Democrats are sponsoring a protest of his appearance.

Faux “news” host Beck is becoming more and more unhinged, and he made the ridiculous claim that President Obama has “a deep-seated hatred for white people.” That means he hates his mother and his maternal grandparents who helped raise him. The good news is people are starting to see through him, and to date some 50 advertisers have chosen not to advertise on Beck’s show.

But that didn’t stop the chamber from paying Beck $25,000 to spew his hatred.

Beck is cut out of the same cloth as hatemonger Ann Coulter, but only worse. He has been one of the prime promoters of the fake, Astroturf “tea parties.” His heated anti-government rhetoric has already led to violence, and it reminds of the mid-1990s when the same anti-government rhetoric led to the worst case of domestic terrorism.

It’s not by accident that the Michigan Militia has made a resurgence, and all you need to do is exchange Obama for Clinton and it‘s 1995. But it’s even uglier, and we have white supremacists groups in the mix now. The Michigan Militia went underground after August 10, 1995 with the indictment of Timothy McVeigh for the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building. But they are back, and Beck is a major reason.

If you choose not to attend the protest or are unable to make it, remember this when the chamber endorses Republicans candidates next year, Is this is the kind of racist, rhetoric the chamber supports?

Tell Beck to get off of your phone.

Right-wingers are trying to martyr radical anti-choice demonstrator

Right-wingers are becoming so predictable.

The body of radical anti-choice demonstrator James Pouillon was not even cold when a few Michigan rightwing bloggers were saying, ‘why isn’t the murder of Pouillon on Friday in Owosso receiving as much coverage as the murder of Kansas Dr. George Tiller this spring.’ It seemed pretty obvious why, but when Rightwing demagogue Bill O'Reilly asked the same question Friday night it was obvious the spin was in full swing and Pouillon was going to be the right’s next hero and a martyr.

Pouillon, 63, was shot Friday morning while protesting across the street from Owosso High School allegedly by Harlan Drake, 33, who also allegedly shot and killed gravel company owner Mike Fuoss. He was also on his way, allegedly, to shot a third victim when arrested. The Fuoss shooting is just getting a mention in the national coverage right-wingers are claming is not even occurring.

Make no mistake, this had nothing to do with abortion, and Pouillon was not killed because of his beliefs on abortion. The connection to abortion was that the alleged shooter claims that he thought it was wrong to subject high school kids to those graphic pictures every day.

The killing was a tragedy for the community and for Pouillon and Fuoss’s families. It’s a terrible thing for high school students to see a murder, and it was a 16-year-old student who was the first on the scene to provide first aid to Pouillon.

The attempts to make Pouillon a martyr are already underway. He was well known in the community as an offensive and confrontational but constant presence with offensive signs of alleged aborted fetus. It goes without saying that he did not deserve to die for his views and actions, no matter how offensive, and the shooter should never get out of prison if he is guilty.

The fact is this is getting national attention, and it shouldn’t. It’s even more hypocritical for O'Reilly to make the false claim this is not getting attention by the media. The differences between the shooting of Dr. Tiller and Mr. Pouillon are obviously clear, despite right-wingers attempt to make a political issue out of it.

Dr. Tiller was shot by an avowed anti-choice extremist; Mr. Pouillon was allegedly shot by a man who held a grudge against his two victims and had no known political affiliation. Dr. Tiller was nationally known after he was shot once before in 1993 by another extremist anti-choice zealot.

Dr. Tiller was nationally known because people like O'Reilly called him Dr. Death, said he had blood on his hands and would “kill a baby the day before it was born.” Mr. Pouillon was well known for his confrontational tactics and inappropriate protests at inappropriate places and generally ignored when possible by Shiawasee County residents.

O'Reilly hung a target on Dr. Tiller’s back, and Dr. Tiller was discussed in at least 28 O'Reilly episodes before his murder. Mr. Pouillon was mentioned on O'Reilly’s show once and only after his tragic murder.

This is another tragic, senseless gun crime, but it has nothing to do with politics or abortion.

Sep 11, 2009

Robber Barons propose to turn Michigan around by making more money


A business group of 70 Michigan CEOs calling itself “Business Leaders for Michigan (BLFM)” says it has a plan that will turn Michigan around, but it will do it at the expense of the poor and middle class and line their pockets even more.

The group is headed by Domino's Pizza CEO and possible Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate David Brandon, and that should tell you everything you need to know. The plan is nothing but the usual false GOP mantra that cutting taxes less pay for workers will fix the problem.

What is even more ominous is the group’s pledge to go after anyone that does not see their vision. At a press conference Thursday, according to subscription only Gongwer, the group pledged to become a major player in elections for state office. Cynthia Pasky, president and CEO of Detroit-based Strategic Staffing Solutions, told Gongwer the group would be a major player in politics. She told Gongwer that the group would “spend big on selected races. She said individuals would also bundle contributions in addition to the PAC's spending.”

Their predictable solutions include broadening the sales tax to services and reducing the 6 percent rate to a level the group declined to disclose. Medical services, food, business-to-business services and some other already-exempt services would remain untaxed.

They also proposed cutting the number of state workers by 5-10 percent, despite a recent report that state workers have already been reduced by 18 percent in just the past seven years. The CEOs, predictably, also call for cutting state worker’s pay and requiring them to contribute more to their health care premiums, even though most state workers and their families have seen their health care costs double in the last couple of years. It also calls for reducing the revenue raised by the Michigan Business Tax by 60 percent and repealing the personal property tax.

It would also require local governments and school districts to share services, eliminate optional Medicaid services, prohibit state regulations from exceeding federal ones and allow unlimited charter schools. It’s also going after local government unions and public safety workers by eliminate binding arbitration for police officers and fire workers.

Noticeably absent is a graduated income tax that was discussed earlier, and, of course, not a single sacrifice by CEOs whose pay has skyrocketed in recent years. In fact, in 1965 the average CEO was earning 24 times what the average worker was making, but in 2005, the average CEO was making 262 times what the average worker is making.

The lack of sacrifice on the part of CEOs was not lost on anyone.

“Conspicuously absent from their so-called 'turnaround plan' is any sacrifice by greedy, corporate CEOs, such as a reduction in their excessive salaries and perks," Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer told Gongwer. "Their 'vision' of change for Michigan is enormous sacrifice by working people and the unemployed while wealthy, corporate CEOs feel no pain."

Sep 10, 2009

Wilson is the newest Joe the Plumber


There are a few things you can count on in this world, rain in April, the Detroit Lions breaking your heart and rightwingers making a hero out of someone who makes an ass of themselves. The latest rightwing hero is U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina.

During the President’s address to a joint session of Congress Wednesday night, the President debunked the rightwing lie that the evil illegal aliens will get free health care, and the classless jerk from South Carolina shouted “you lie.”

Apparently, He must have thought he was at an Astroturf Tea Bag” event or a staged townhall meeting

This is from Factcheck:

Claim: Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free healthcare services.

False. That’s simply not what the bill says at all. This page includes "SEC. 152. PROHIBITING DISCRIMINATION IN HEALTH CARE," which says that "[e]xcept as otherwise explicitly permitted by this Act and by subsequent regulations consistent with this Act, all health care and related services (including insurance coverage and public health activities) covered by this Act shall be provided without regard to personal characteristics extraneous to the provision of high quality health care or related services." However, the bill does explicitly say that illegal immigrants can’t get any government money to pay for health care. Page 143 states: "Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States." And as we’ve said before, current law prohibits illegal immigrants from participating in government health care programs.

You can guarantee Wilson will get the hero treatment just like Sam “the cable box promoter” Wurzelbacher, and Wilson will be get invites to more “tea bag” events and Lincoln Day dinners all over the country. All you have to do is disrespect the President, your office and yourself to make a name for yourself in rightwing world. That’s a small price to pay for fame and notice.

It was as disrespectful as back-benchers like Mike Rogers waving sheets of paper when the camera cut to them during the speech. It kind of reminds me of when a TV crew is at a crime scene and people run to get their face on camera.

Sep 9, 2009

Do as I say not as I do


LANSING -- If you were in the Senate gallery for the last two sessions of the Michigan Senate on Aug. 27 and Wednesday, you got to see another example of Senate Republicans calling out Democrats for something they routinely do.

At the end of each session, usually, Senators are allowed to make a statement on any subject they want. Sen. Glenn Anderson, D-Westland, chose to reply to an accusation Sen. Nancy Cassis, R-Novi, made against him on the last session day on Aug. 27. But Majority Floor Leader Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, objected and stopped Anderson from talking about Cassis.

He then made a motion to deny Anderson’s constitutional right to have his remarks printed in the Senate Journal. After a brief recess to dig into the Senate rule book, Anderson was denied that right by a vote of 18-16, along party lines.

“Our rules say that we are not to speak inappropriately or to question another Senator’s motives,” Cropsey said.

The chain of events was set off when Senate Democrats tried to discharge House Bill 4922 from committee that expands the tax credits that can be given to new projects that create jobs under the Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA), like the energy park planned for the closed Ford Wixom plant, on Aug. 27. The discharge was defeated, mostly along party lines.

Cassis, chair of the Finance Committee, saw that as an opportunity to move her bills, Senate Bills 773-774, that would require the Michigan Economic Development Authority (MEDC) to make stricter reporting on the MEGA tax credits. She introduced them just the day before, and then she accused the Senate Democrats of breaking a deal they had never heard about.

“Earlier in our session today, my good Democratic colleagues attempted to break a deal and discharge House Bill No. 4922 which sits in the Senate Finance Committee,” Cassis said on Aug. 27 on the Senate floor during statements. “Interestingly, this bill came over to the Senate as a House Democrat bill simply expanding MEGA credits without any accountability.”

Most Senate Democrats had seen her bills just that day.

“There may have been some agreement between MEGA and the Senator, there has been no agreement between any of us and the Senator that we attempted to break any deal.” said Sen. Deb Cherry, D-Burton. “While I may understand her deal which she has made with somebody else, I resent the fact that I’m being told that I broke my word when my word was never a part of this.”

Cassis also launched an unprovoked attack against Anderson during the same statement, but he had already left the Senate floor and was not able to respond until two weeks later on Wednesday. No one challenged Cassis, and her attack was allowed to be printed in the journal.

“So I have one important question for the good Senator representing Livonia, who supported the discharge today,” Cassis said on Aug. 27. “Senator, where were you when Quicken Loans got almost $50 million in MEGA credits to locate in Livonia and then leave this fair city for Detroit and gain another $42 million in credits.
“Where was your voice then,” she said. “Why didn’t you stand up for your hometown Livonia, losing jobs, losing important revenue? It took a Senator from across 8 Mile Road, a neighbor from Novi, to do so.”

Quicken loans, the nation's largest online retail mortgage lender with a model spanning the entire country, was looking to expand, and they already had locations in Cleveland and Arizona they could expanded to. In fact, co-founder Dan Gilbert is the majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he could have moved the headquarters there.

Wednesday was Anderson’s first opportunity to respond to Cassis’s attack.

“The Senator from Novi used the opportunity to launch another diatribe on how members from our side had broken a deal that no one seems to know anything about,” Anderson said. “Everyone here knows what that is really all about: a feeble attempt to divert attention from using her position as the chair of the Finance Committee to block action on legislation that will bring thousands of jobs to the state in order to get a bill moved that has her name on it.”

A rally to help fight politically motivated recall is Thursday


A rally is set for Thursday to support Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, as she fights a recall attempt by Grosse Pointe billionaire and Republican benefactor Matty Moroun.

Moroun has been trying to build a second span right next to the current Ambassador Bridge he owns - only one of two international border crossings in the country in private hands - but the Canadian and U.S. government want to a new public-private bridge at a site located downriver from the current Ambassador Bridge. He has already begun to build the bridge despite not having a single permit, and Tlaib has been very vocal that he have an economic impact study completed.

The recall attempt is simply intimidation. Ambassador Bridge Company employee and connected Detroit political consultant Adolph Mongo is running the recall campaign against Tlaib. The clarity hearing to verify the language that will go on the recall petitions is set for tomorrow in front of the Wayne County Election Commission, and that’s where the rally will be held.

The rally is set for 1-4 p.m. Thursday Sept. 10 in front of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, 2 Woodward Ave, in downtown Detroit.

Sep 8, 2009

State employees are overworked and underpaid


LANSING -- Michigan State University economics Professor Charles Ballard dispelled the myths that the public employee system in Michigan is bloated and that state workers are overpaid and have Cadillac health care benefits.

Ballard recently conducted a comprehensive study on the wages and benefits of state employees on behalf of the unions representing state employees, and he testified on Tuesday before the 13-member House Public Employee Health Care Reform Committee assigned to examine House Speaker Andy Dillon’s, D-Redford, plan to pool all public employees in state, including public school teachers. Dillon claims it will save the state up to $900 million a year.

The first myth he dispelled is that the system is bloated. The fact is state employees are dong more with less.

“We have a reduction of 11,000 workers, which is a reduction of 18 percent since 2001,” Ballard said.

Ballard earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University, and he has been on the faculty at MSU since 1983. He has served as a consultant with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Health & Human Services, Treasury and with research institutes in Australia, Denmark, and Finland. He is the author of two books, “Michigan at the Millennium” and “Michigan’s Economic Future.”

Ballard said state employees earn less than those in the private sector, especially those state workers with advanced degrees.

“As the skill level goes up, when you are talking about engineers and attorneys, public employees earn significantly less,” he said.

Ballard also dispelled the myth that state workers get Cadillac health care befits. The fact is they pay higher than average costs for their health care benefits. In fact, most state workers and their families have seen their health care costs double in the last couple of years.

“What I emphasize is that they are not as good as they once were,” he said. “They have made significant give backs.”

Ballard, who has spent more than 20 years looking at Michigan’s tax and budget process, said the tax revenue system is outdated. He said raising taxes made headlines in 2007, but the next day taxes were cut that didn’t make headlines.

“Our tax revenue system is broken,” he said. “To try and fix the budget with just spending cuts is irrational and draconian.”

Michigan Residents Deserve Fair and Affordable Insurance


The national average annual car insurance is $949. Take a stab at what the average is in Detroit.

$1,500? $2,000? $3,000?

Try more than $5,000. These are the highest rates in the nation, in one of its poorest cities.

In fact, in the next most expensive city to insure a car – Philadelphia – the average is $3,700, 25 percent less than in Detroit.

A recent independent report showed that where a driver lives has the greatest effect on a driver’s rates. It also found that Detroit’s premiums ranged from 241 to 365 percent higher than premiums in Kalamazoo.

Well, you might be thinking, that’s too bad for Detroiters. Hope things get better for them.

But it’s not just a Detroit problem. Across our state, consumers pay the 12th highest auto insurances rates in the nation.

And how much they pay is determined by factors that seem to have little or nothing to do with their driving record or the value of their car. Insurance companies can set rates based on education level, credit score, zip code and even job title.

I’ve been asking for insurance reform here in Michigan for many years now. What I want is simple: I want fair and affordable insurance for every citizen of our state, with rates determined by a person’s driving record and the value of their car.

That’s not so outrageous, is it? But year after year, I introduce bills that languish and then die in committee without getting a hearing.

No one is willing to come to the table and talk about this issue and what we can do to make things better for Michigan citizens.

On Wednesday, September 30, citizens from every corner of the state are invited to join me and other legislators on the steps of our Capitol to let their elected officials know that this issue matters to them.
Money spent on insurance – something required by law in Michigan – is money not spent on a mortgage, utilities, children, and families.

Changing the way insurance companies do business in Michigan will put money back into the pockets of hard-working people.

Senate Bill 166, which would outlaw setting insurance rates based on zip code, and other insurance reform measures deserve a hearing, and then to be put to a vote.

Please join me for this important event. It’s time for legislators to let Michigan citizens know where they stand – with them, or with business as usual.

###

All Michigan citizens are invited to the rally. For information on bus rides from the Detroit area, call Senator Scott’s Detroit office at (313) 372-8567 during business hours after Labor Day. Citizens are also encouraged to carpool to the event or to organize a bus.

Senator Martha G. Scott represents the 2nd Senate District, which includes areas of Detroit and the cities of Hamtramck, Harper Woods, Highland Park and all of the Grosse Pointes. She serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee. Visit her online at www.senate.mi.gov/scott/.

Don’t forget the counter protest to the fake Astroturf bus tour today

In yet even more free publicity and promotion from the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus for the promotion of the big money, Anti-Obama partisan “Tea Party Express” bus tour sponsored by the rightwing “Our Country Deserves Better PAC that will be in Brighton today, the paper let’s us know that Sam “the digital converter box promoter” Wurzelbacher will speak.

You may know him as "Joe the plumber," only he’s not a plumber. His 15 minutes of fame should have been up long ago, but for some unknown reason right-wingers continue to roll him out as some sort of prop at these fake, Astroturf events. You will recall that he gained instant celebrity status after a chance encounter with President Obama when Wurzelbacher asked him a question during a campaign stop in Toledo in October of last year.

The right has, for some reason, trotted him out as, I guess, an example of a regular guy. He’s living proof that the President’s economic stimulus plan is working because he is thriving despite being unqualified for just about every job he has held because of his chance fame.

Don’t forget the peaceful counter protest sponsored by the Livingston County Democratic Party. Be at the Mill Pond in downtown Brighton no later than 3 p.m. today, Tuesday. Plug in the address of Brighton City Hall for directions, 200 N. First St. Brighton 48116. The Mill Pond is between First and Main Street, and there is a large municipal lot near city hall. There is additional parking behind the stores on the opposite side of Main Street across from the Mill Pond.

Sep 7, 2009

The American people wonder if right-wingers can get any more ridiculous


“And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it.”

Only in the world of conservatives, can those words President Obama will say in a nationwide speech to students tomorrow be considered propaganda and “imposing their political views on their children.” This is some of the silliness right-wingers are rolling out because the President of the United States is going to address students on the first day of school on the importance of education, staying in school, working hard and perseverance.

Here in conservative Livingston County, one Pinckney Community Schools parent, according to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, has threatened to blackmail the school district by “recruiting other parents to keep their children home on fall student count day if the district airs the speech.”

Each district receives a per-pupil foundation grant for each student counted that day that is the only money the school district receives to actually operate the school. Some idiot would sabotage the education of hundreds of other students just because of an 18-minute speech by the President they don’t like.

One Whitmore Lake parent said Obama’s speech “will attempt to force his views onto his children because he’s “a conservative and tends not to agree with Obama’s views.” “Maybe it’s innocent, but it doesn’t pass the smell test,” he added.

I agree; this ridiculous uproar does not pass the smell test.

The President released the text of the speech, and these are some of the views he is attempting to force on students.

“You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.”

How’s that for “socialist ideology?”

Here’s some more:

“My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.”


With a 50 percent divorce rate, I guarantee there are lots of students in Livingston County who live in households headed by a single parent. What an inspiring story the President has to tell; he came from humble beginnings to graduate from Harvard Law School to make history and become the first African-American President.

Where was the outcry when Republican presidents addressed students? Like when Reagan spoke to middle school students back in 1988 on the importance of tax cuts.

“The message at the Boston Tea Party -- have you studied yet in history about the Boston Tea Party, where because of a tax they went down and dumped the tea in the Harbor. Well, that was America's original tax revolt, and it was the fruits of our labor -- it belonged to us and not to the state. And that truth is fundamental to both liberty and prosperity.”

So much for this BS about respecting the office when we criticized Bush.

Sep 6, 2009

Paper continues to promote fake bus tour farce


You can’t pay for advertising like this.

For the second time in less than two weeks, the Livingston County Daily Press and Argus has chosen to promote the anti-Obama and anti-Democratic “Tea Party” bus tour coming to Brighton on Tuesday, but this time its on the front page with a photo. It’s not like they don’t have the money to throw the paper a bone for all the free publicity.

The people putting on the Astroturf farce - “Our Country Deserves Better PAC (OCDB)” formed in August 2008 by veteran Republican California political consultant Sal Russo and former GOP California Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian - have plenty of money to buy an ad. Plus, the health insurance lobby is spending $1.4 million a day to protect their huge profits.

Having worked in the P & A newsroom and knowing both reporters, I’m amazed they didn’t at least talk to each other or compare notes. The Aug. 28 story at least mentioned who was behind the farce, but Sunday’s story does not. To make it even more outrageous is he only talks to Republicans - and all party officials - who then float the stale old lie that it’s a nonpartisan event.

If it’s really nonpartisan then why not quote a Democrat? Plus, the paper is ignoring the Democratic counter rally set for Tuesday despite receiving at least one press release.

Here’s one of the story’s funnier lines:
“Several busloads of conservative activists have been making a cross-country tour that has been named after the legendary Boston Tea Party, where American colonists dumped tea into Boston Harbor in protest of the British government's policy of taxing them without representation.”

First, it’s not a “busloads of conservative activists.” It’s a busload of rightwing Washington, D.C. lobbyists. Can someone please tell me how these people are taxed without representation?

Here’s another gem:
“Although local supporters said the gathering isn't a Republican rally, it's clear the event is geared toward people with conservative views on health care and government spending.”

If you see a Democrat at this fake event, other than at the counter protest, throw a net over them. That is simply another lie. The PAC’s stated mission is to “oppose Obama and the "Democratic Congress." It boasts on its web site that "we must stand up to Barack Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress." The PAC also solicits contributions by stating, "Help us fight the Democratic Congress!" That sounds like a Republican rally to me.

I know Livingston County Republican Party chair and Livingston County undersheriff Mike Murphy’s job is to spin, but he must feel ridiculous when spits out this outrageous lie:
“It's really not a Republican thing or Democratic thing," he said.” It’s a grass-roots, conservative, anti-tax thing.” Right, and I’m a conservative Republican.

Here’s another Murphy gem on health care:
“It doesn't make any sense to fix it for a small percentage of folks and burden a larger percentage of folks," he said. You need to tell that to the people with expensive coverage that are just one major illness away from bankruptcy or companies shedding health care so they can compete with countries with universal health care.

Of course, the paper could not pass up an opportunity to quote rightwing extremist Wendy Day, a member of the Howell School Board and a founding member of the defunct anti-gay hate group LOVE (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) who actually helped organize a “tea party” convention. She floats the lie even she knows is untrue:

“Day also believes independents and Democrats will attend the event.” Again, throw a net over them if you see one.

The paper then quotes retired high school teacher Irene Bescanon, who just happens to be the vice chairwoman of the Livingston County Republican Women's Club. Her quote is amazing. She has excellent health care that her union fought for, plus Medicare, but she also wants portability, meaning she wants a plan that would allow individuals to carry their insurance plans wherever they go. “She doesn't mind paying for her health care, and she wants to be able to pick her doctor.” Glad to see she supports health care reform. So why is she at the rally again? Oh yea, she’s a Republican attending a Republican anti-Obama rally.

Then Arlene Callaghan, who is - you guessed it - the outreach coordinator with the county GOP, dismissed accounts of the "tea party' as gatherings of "angry mobs." Gee, is anyone surprised she said that?

Ms. Callaghan says she just wants to have a voice.” You do, Ms. Callaghan, it’s called a vote, and the people used their voice to sweep your party out of office last November.

So remember, The Livingston County Democratic Party is planning a counter protest to the big money, Anti-Obama partisan “Tea Party Express” bus tour, so be at Mill Pond in downtown Brighton at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Friends of working men and women help dedicate museum and celebrate Labor Day


MONROE -- The dedication of the new neon sign at the Monroe County Labor History Museum Saturday proved once against that Monroe is truly a labor town.

The dedication of the sign at the only labor museum in the state was the highlight of the Laborfest in downtown Monroe as people celebrated Labor Day and the decent life unions brought about and its creation of the middle class. The day brought back memories of past Labor Day celebrations when Monroe was home to numerous paper mills and people gathered at the historic Phillip Murray Building that houses the museum - named in honor Philip Murray, the first president of the United Steelworkers of America - to honor the contributions labor made to making this country great.

“The last time we had an event here was in 1964,” said Stanley Lewinski, President of the Monroe/Lenawee County AFL-CIO Central Labor Council that was also celebrating its 50th anniversary. “It’s been a long time since we had a celebration like this in Monroe.”

Dignitaries and friends of labor like Lt. Gov. John Cherry, U.S. Rep .John Dingell and Michigan Democratic Chair Mark Brewer showed up to honor the hard work and contribution of labor and to recognize the effort it took to renovate a rundown building almost 100 years old into a showcase for educating the next generation about the huge contribution labor has made to improving their lives. Labor has been under attack recently, and as the number of people in unions falls, so does the standard of living, wages and benefits.

“During the past eight years, labor unions and the American worker has been under attack,” Lewinski said. “These are difficult times for labor and workers, but that will pass.”

The event has special meaning for Dingell. His father- who served the same district as his son for 22 years - was fired from a job in 1914 for union activities, and in later years, his father and Phillip Murray were friends. The senior Congressman John Dingell helped enact the Wagner Act, also known as the National Labor Relations Act, in 1935 that allowed labor unions to engage in collective bargaining for the first time.

“That was labor’s Magna Carta that allowed workers to bargain for fair wages and conditions for the first time,” he said.” If it were not for Labor, we would not have the things that make life worth living.”

Cherry was the keynote speaker, and he said education is the key to economic growth. Cherry chaired the Commission on Higher Education & Economic in 2004, and he said education and the assault on labor is a contributing factor to wage stagnation and an increasing cost of living. Cherry evoked the memory and words of former UAW President Walter Reuther who spoke about the economic benefits of a good education when Reuther dedicated the building in 1953.

“One third of all people reside in households that earn less than their parents did,” Cherry said. “This is nothing less than a tragedy, and Walter Reuther saw it coming.”

Cherry called out Senate Republicans who eliminate the Michigan Promise Scholarship that would have enabled thousands of Michigan students to afford college.

“The Senate voted to eliminate it and slam the door on those who want to better themselves and improve the economy and stay in Michigan,” he said.

(Photo courtesy of Graham Davis)

Sep 4, 2009

Michigan Republican Congressman are ducking townhall meetings

We have all seem the “tea baggers” disrupt health care townhall meeting put on my Democratic members of Congress, courtesy of scripts provided by the two rightwing Washington, D.C. lobbying groups that are behind the fake, Astroturf “tea parties,” but why haven’t we seen many town halls put on by Republicans?

Michigan’s Democratic Congressional delegation has held them, knowing the disrespect and attacks they were going to endure, but why haven’t Republicans held them? Surprisingly, they are not holding them because they are also afraid of the "shenanigans” and extremists that supporting them: their words.

Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, said he would only hold "tele-town halls” because of "shenanigans seen at some in-person town halls.” I can guarantee that if he does hold one no organized group will try to disrupt it and tell to shut him down and hijack the meeting. I cannot say the same for Democrats holding townhalls.

Mad Thad McCotter, R-Livonia, said he would not hold townhall meetings because extremists attend them. I agree with him, but the problem is they are his supporters. But McCotter apparently will not even meet with constituents.

One of his constituents, Eric Shelley, who was the 2008 Green Party candidate for Congress, has been trying to get a meeting with McCotter and ask him why he will not hold a townhall meeting. He was stymied, so he took to recording the conservations with McCotter’s staff and posting then on Youtube. Michigan Liberal and Blogging for Michigan have done an excellent job covering the saga.

His latest conversation was very telling. It was with McCotter’s chief of staff,
Andy Anuzis. Livingston County residents will remember Andy from his brief stint as the chair of the Livingston County Republican Party, taking over briefly in 2002 when Chris Ward was elected to the Michigan House. He is also the younger brother of Saul Anuzis; known for being loose with the truth and dirty tricks.

Anuzis told Shelley it was illegal to record telephone conservation, but that is simply not true. In Michigan, it's not illegal to record a conversation in which you are a participant. Anuzis could have hung up at any time to avoid being recorded.

Then he tried to blackmail Shelley, telling him the staff would no longer talk to him and he would never meet with McCotter if he didn’t take the videos down.

I have a simple question. When are Rogers and McCotter going to hold a townhall meeting and what are they afraid of?

Rogers invents new lie about health care reform


Mike Rogers is a liar, but he is even taking the standard lie that the proposed health care reform plan will cancel your private health insurance and put everyone on Medicare even going farther and scaring senior citizens who love Medicare and telling them the lie that they will lose Medicare if the bill passes.

This makes you wonder if there is anything Rogers will not say to defeat President Obama? If Medicare is so bad - the government run health insurance program ran by the federal government - why would seniors be upset about losing it? Why would people then be upset if they went on it?

The Brighton Republican held a "tele-townhall" Wednesday evening because he is too sacred to hold a real townhall like all of Michigan’s Democratic Congressional delegation has, and in a story in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, Rogers floated the outrageous lie that according to Section 102 people will lose both private health care and Medicare.

Not true. Factcheck says “The legislation wouldn’t require anyone to switch health insurance – though, in most cases, plans would eventually have to meet minimum benefit standards.” Factcheck also says Rogers scare tactic on Medicare is false, saying “And Congress isn’t proposing to cut benefit levels or to deny treatment to anyone who is "not worth the cost."

But I’m not the only one calling Rogers a liar, but they do it more nicely.
“Saint Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital doesn't share Rogers' views on the future of private health care and Medicare, said Tonya Nottmeier, director of Federal Advocacy for Trinity Health, which includes the Howell hospital.”
"Our health system has studied the House legislation and shared suggestions for improvement with many members of Congress. Congressman Rogers' comments do not reflect our understanding or interpretation of the legislation," Nottmeier said.

It doesn’t fit anyone else’s understanding or interpretation of the legislation besides tea baggers.

Rogers then tried to defend not holding townhall meetings like Democrats have.
“Rogers said he's found the phone forum eliminates the "shenanigans" seen at some in-person town halls, such as the presence of organized groups and people shouting down one another.
He said the phone forums have proven more cost-effective, and, unlike public town halls, allows thousands to listen in and participate.”

Did he say "shenanigans?” Well, there is no liberal lobbying group - or any liberal group - putting out a script on how to disrupt townhall meetings or shout anyone down.

Sep 3, 2009

Nofs needs Senate seat to pay for green fees and vacation home

Mike Nofs - the Republican candidate for the Michigan Senate’s vacant 19th District seat against Rep. Martin Griffin, D-Jackson - continues to pull the wool over people’s eyes and continues to sell the myth that he is a regular guy and pro-worker.

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer held a press conference in Battle Creek Thursday and reveled regular guy Nofs purchased a Lake Michigan beach front home in South Haven, primarily from the proceeds from a sweetheart deal when he sold his land for a dump to BFI Waste Systems of North America for an undisclosed amount of money that he referred to as “higher than market value” when he was a Calhoun County Commissioner.

But his reason for running for the seat is to serve himself not the residents of Jackson and Calhoun Counties. He told the Battle Creek Enquirer when he announced in April that apparently his two public pensions weren’t enough to maintain his lifestyle.

“I felt for the first time how hard it is to live on a fixed income while your expenses keep going up,” he was quoted as saying in an article. Apparently, those expenses include playing golf at the Battle Creek Country Club and beach front vacation homes.

“With two taxpayer-provided pensions, windfall profits from the sale of his land to a garbage dump, and a new vacation home in South Haven, Mike Nofs doesn’t understand the challenges facing the financially struggling families of the 19th Senate District,” Brewer said. “And with wealth like that, it’s no wonder Mike Nofs opposes government reforms such as the disclosure of financial assets of candidates and elected officials.”

Nofs doesn’t want people to know his sources of income. Nofs was one of just 19 House members to vote against a bipartisan public official asset disclosure bill, House Bill 4285, in 2007.

“Nofs has spent his career lining his pockets and putting Lansing special interests ahead of his constituents,” Brewer said. “His advocacy for the garbage industry and for companies which outsource Michigan jobs has paid off handsomely for him, while hurting the people of Calhoun and Jackson Counties.”

Scott to announce plans for rally for fair auto insurance rates


Sen. Martha G. Scott, D-Highlander Park, will formally announce plans for her Sept. 30 rally where citizens from across the state will gather on the Capitol lawn to fight the practice of redlining and the high cost of auto insurance and demand insurance reforms that will allow all residents to purchase fair and affordable auto and home insurance at a pair of press conferences next week.

The first press conference is set for 8 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8 in front of the Cadillac Building, 3022 W Grand Blvd, Detroit. The second will be at 9 am. Wednesday in Room 405 of the Capitol in Lansing.

“Money spent on insurance – required by law in Michigan – is money struggling families cannot spend on their mortgage, their utilities, and food,” Scott said. “Michigan consumers pay the 12th highest insurance rates in the nation. Detroit consumers pay an average of more than $5,000 a year for auto insurance, the highest rates in the nation. Does that sound fair and affordable to you?”

Scott and other legislators seeking change to Michigan’s insurance laws believe that rates should be set on the value of a person’s home or car, and, for auto insurance, a person’s driving record. Rates should not be set on zip code, education level, job title or credit score – all factors currently used to determine insurance rates.

“I’ve been asking for insurance reform here in Michigan for many years now,” Scott said. “What I want is simple: I want fair and affordable insurance for every citizen of our state, with rates determined by a person’s driving record and the value of their car. That’s not so outrageous, is it? But year after year, I introduce bills that languish and then die in committee without getting a hearing.”

Like the huge crowds that turned out two years ago to plead for reform that fell on the deaf ears of Senate leadership, citizens will again ask for hearings on insurance reform bills now before the Senate, and for votes on those bills. Scott is the sponsor of Senate Bill 166, which would outlaw the practice of setting insurance rates on zip code.

All Michigan citizens are invited to the rally. For information on bus rides from the Detroit area, call Senator Scott’s Detroit office at (313) 372-8567 during business hours after Labor Day. Citizens are also encouraged to carpool to the event or to organize a bus.

Sep 2, 2009

Celebrate Labor Day weekend at the state’s only labor museum


Monroe is the place to be this Labor Day weekend, and the highlight of the day is the dedication of the new neon sign at the Monroe County Labor History Museum, in downtown Monroe on Saturday, the only labor museum in the state.

The museum in the historic Phillip Murray Building at 41 W. Front St. - named in honor of Philip Murray, the first president of the United Steelworkers of America - is dedicated to Michigan’s long and rich history of organized labor. Organized labor brought us the weekend, the 40 hour week, overtime pay, workplace safety standards, health insurance, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation and decent wages.

Lt. Gov. John Cherry will be the keynote speaker at 5 p.m., but before that there will be tours, an cream social and a moonwalk beginning at noon.

The Monroe County Council CIO Social and Welfare Association has been working on the restoration and improvement of the only labor museum in the state since 2001, and in February of 2007 it opened for business. There have been monetary donations - and they certainly can use more, but most of the work was done by the donated labor of union skilled tradesmen. It has been a work in progress, and a labor of love.

Bill Conner, the president of the Monroe County Council CIO Social and Welfare Association and the museum curator, said one of the biggest missions of the museum will be to educate children on the role labor has played in creating the middle class and improving the lot of workers; something that has been taken for granted.

But that’s not all of the celebrations going on in in Monroe on Saturday to celebrate the huge contribution of organized labor. A 5-mile Labor Day walk from Sterling State Park to St. Mary's Park will step off at 10 a.m.

The downtown barbecue will begin around noon, and downtown restaurants will set up in tents so festival-goers can enjoy outdoor dining. Music will also start at noon on a stage at E. Front and Washington and go into the night. Also throughout the day, local artists will set up booths to sell their creations and nonprofit agencies will be on hand to tell visitors about their services. There will be face-painting and other activities.

Labor Day is, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. On June 28 1894 Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

Even state Republicans are lying about health care reform


Michigan Republican Chair Ron Weiser is, not surprisingly, lying about health care reform.

In a fundraising letter to supporters, he claims, “Some Democrats in Congress, including members from Michigan, are trying to pass laws to cancel your private health insurance and put your family on Medicare. This is not a scare tactic; it’s the truth.” Sorry Mr. Weiser, it’s the former, and that makes you a liar, and it’s just one of a number of scare tactics the Republicans are rolling out.

According to Factcheck.org: “The legislation wouldn’t require anyone to switch health insurance – though, in most cases, plans would eventually have to meet minimum benefit standards. The bills don’t require anyone to join the federal plan.”

My favorite false scare tactic is the one that claims illegal aliens will be provided free health care at taxpayer’s expense. It seems anytime it wants to fire up the base, Republicans roll out the specter of Mexicans. As the majority of Americans know, it’s just another rightwing lie. According to Factcheck: “That’s simply not what the bill says at all. The bill does explicitly say that illegal immigrants can’t get any government money to pay for health care. Page 143 states: "Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States."

I also find it very ironic that Weiser chooses to quote my Congressman, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, in his letter who says: “I believe we can do better. The American people deserve real bipartisan health care reform that will lower costs and keep the federal government out of personal health care decisions.” Rogers plan is the status quo that is seeing 11,000 people a day lose their health care, premiums for employer-sponsored coverage have increased 119 percent in just 10 years and health care premiums for family plans have increased 78 percent in Michigan since 2000.
Plus, he’s using the false scare tactic that the government will be involved in health care choices. That’s a lie. According to Factcheck: An advisory committee “would have only the power “to recommend” what benefits are included in basic, enhanced and premium insurance plans. It would have no power to decide what treatments anybody will get. Its recommendations on benefits might or might not be adopted.”

Clearly the system is broken, and all we get from Republicans is kill reform at all costs just to hand President Obama a defeat so they can control something they claim to hate. To make the claim of bipartisanship is also at best disingenuous. Not only am I waiting for Rogers to propose a real plan, but I’m still waiting for him to hold a health care townhall meeting.

All the Democrats have held them, I believe, and Rogers knows there is no Washington, D.C. lobbying groups sending out scripts on how to disrupt Republican townhall meetings, so what is he scared of?

Sep 1, 2009

Tobocman named new MPLP Co-Director


Former Michigan House Majority Floor Leader Steve Tobocman, D- Detroit, was named co-director of the Michigan Political Leadership Program (MPLP) at Michigan State University (MSU), part of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR).

IPPSR is a nonpartisan public policy network at MSU dedicated to connecting legislators, scholars and practitioners through survey, evaluation and applied research, policy forums and political leadership briefings. The MPLP program trains Michigan’s future leaders from the entire political spectrum during an intensive nine-month program. Past alumni of the annual program that began in 1992 include Rep. Ed Clemente, D-Lincoln Park; Detroit City Council President Kenneth Cockrel, Jr.; Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel: Rep. Robert Dean, D-Grand Rapids; and Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland.

The co-directors include a Democrat and a Republican, and Tobocman joins Republican co-director Anne Mervenne. Tobocman was named to replace former state Senator and former House Minority Leader Dianne Byrum, who resigned after being elected to the Michigan State University Board of Trustees last November.

Tobocman was term-limited last year after serving in the Michigan House of Representatives from 2003 through 2008. Since leaving the House last year, Tobocman has been managing partner of New Solutions LLC and serves as co-director of the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force.

“I am truly excited about the opportunity to help lead such a respected and proven program,” he said.

Join the Livingston County Democrats for a peaceful counter protest


BRIGHTON – The Livingston County Democratic Party is planning a counter protest to the big money, Anti-Obama partisan “Tea Party Express” bus tour sponsored by the rightwing “Our Country Deserves Better PAC that will be in Brighton on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

The farce will make a stop at the Mill Pond in downtown Brighton at 3:30 p.m., and the party is mounting a real grassroots counter protest that will be in sharp contrast to the fake, angry “tea parties” we have been subjected to.

Bring an American flag or wear an Obama pin or tee-shirt. The protest will be rational, and non confrontational.

The so-called “Our Country Deserves Better PAC” was formed in August 2008 by veteran Republican California political consultant Sal Russo and former GOP California Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian. The PAC’s mission is to oppose Obama and the "Democratic Congress." It boasts on its web site that "we must stand up to Barack Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress." The PAC also solicits contributions by stating, "Help us fight the Democratic Congress!"

The stated “mission” of the bus tour is to “highlight some of the worst offenders in Congress who have voted for higher spending, higher taxes, and government intervention in the lives of American families and businesses.” What they really mean is Democrats and only Democrats.

They will have no problem drawing a crowd in predominantly conservative Republican Livingston County, but that has never stopped Livingston County Democrats from fighting back. We welcome help from people who care about real health care reform and the environment we must live in.

Renewable energy rally features labor and environmentalists


Coming on the heels of the news of a planned $1 billion conversion of the idle Ford Wixom plant into a massive renewable energy park resulting in 4,300 direct jobs, the BlueGreen Alliance and Repower America are holding a rally for clean energy jobs at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday Sept. 2 at the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1299 hall at 11424 West Jefferson in River Rouge.

The rally will be in support of clean energy jobs in America, and more specifically in Michigan. It’s fitting that the BlueGreen Alliance is a coalition of the United Steelworkers (USW) and the Sierra Club and other environmental groups formed in the summer of 2007. The strange bedfellows formed the strategic alliance to pursue a joint public policy agenda that includes stopping global warming, clean energy, fair trade and reducing toxins in the environment.

Repower America was launched in 2008 by former Vice-President Al Gore with an ambitious plan n to "repower" our country with 100 clean electricity and revitalize our national energy infrastructure. Repower America stands for the importance of investing in energy efficiency; clean, renewable and diversified energy sources; a unified national smart energy grid that connects these renewable energy sources to every part of the country; and clean car technology.

Repower America has goals very similar to the BlueGreen Alliance, and they include jumpstarting our economy and create millions of jobs; help end our dependence on foreign oil; reward innovation and job creation, not polluters; and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow the threat of climate change.